Big Trees of Northern New England

Kevin Martin

August 4, 2022  7pm


Do you know New Hampshire is home to five national champion “Big Trees?” These are the largest examples of their species discovered nationwide.  New Hampshire hosts the largest tamarack, Carolina silverbell, pitch pine, red pine, and pin cherry in the entire USA.

Wooden boatbuilder and outdoorsman Kevin Martin, will be showing and discussing these trees as described in his new book Big Trees of Northern New England. You will hear how he got involved with finding the trees, how lumber from similar trees is used in his boat building work, and how wildlife will use these impressive parts of our landscape. The discussion will cover trees on public land in all parts of the state and where they are located so you can go see them for yourself.

Kevin brings you through the woods and into some cities all over the region to find these impressive living parts of our landscape. Some of the hikes include New Hampshire’s largest northern white cedars in Clarksville that have been marked by bears for generations and the horse chestnut in Portsmouth that was planted by a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Books will be available after the presentation for those interested.


Event Report
Big Trees of Northern New England

Kevin Martin

August 4, 2022  7pm


Wooden boatbuilder and outdoorsman Kevin Martin came to the Park to talk about the big trees of Northern New England.


Kevin has been building wooden boats for 40 years. It was in his search for clear, premium woods that he could use for his boats that his interest in big trees was piqued.


Kevin is a devoted outdoorsman. Over the years he has been a member of his town's conservation commission and the Lamprey River Watershed Association. This picture depicts a large white ash along the Lamprey River.

As his interest in big trees grew he joined the NH Big Tree program - a volunteer group sponsored by UNH Extension. This group searches for and measures trees that have been nominated for the program. They will also re-measure champion-level trees every 10 years.


Kevin showed a few slides to explain the various methods for measuring trees.


This slide depicts more advanced methods using a laser rangefinder.


Kevin explained how the Big Tree point system works and how it is used to determine champion trees.


An example of a champion level 
eastern white pine is shown here.


Kevin talked about some of the major benefits of large trees.


Kevin's field guide is a wonderful resource for finding big trees in NH that can be viewed from public lands. He details the locations of these trees and has a map of 28 hikes that can be taken.

Some of these hikes are in our cities such as Portsmouth, Concord and Nashua. Oftentimes, species not native to NH such as Douglas Fir, European beech and European larch, were planted in parks and cemeteries in our towns and cities.


In addition to showing many slides of big trees from across NH and even some from other NE states, Kevin talked about big trees that can be found in our north country such as:

  • Clarksville cedars

  • Snyder Brook hemlocks in Randolph

  • White and black spruce at Pondicherry Wildlife Preserve

  • Red spruce and yellow birch in Franconica Notch State Park

This slide was a popular one in the media recently - a white ash in Derry, NH.


It was surprising how many different wood varieties can be used in constructing canoes and boats. One has butternut in places!  Sometimes, Kevin even uses the roots from the trees.

There are also a wide range of stories behind these boats. Here Kevin is with Karen Zale, author of The Will To Survive - the inspirational story of her father John Zale. John was a survivor of the Bataan Death March in WWII.


One of the more humorous stories Kevin told concerned "courting canoes" such as the one shown here.  These were popular for romantic excursions during a byegone era - especially on the Charles River in Boston.


Kevin's fascinating and informative presentation covered a lot of ground and his guidebook is very thorough and well-done. Shortly, another of his books will be available. Check out his website:

Thank you so much for coming to Weeks State Park.